Pull-Push Pyramid – Awesome upper-body body-weight routine

by Paleo Rob on 07/02/2011

So as part of my US Marine Fitness Challenge I need to up my pullup count. Currently I am maxing out at about 8 bodyweight pullups before I start losing form. I need to more than double that in the next few months to reach my target. Sounds easy, but pullups are a bitch. I really need to increase my upper body strength and endurance. To do this so I have started on a simple pyramid routine.

The Pull Push Pyramid routine is super easy on paper, 6 easy steps that will make your trapz feel like the devil himself stuck his head in there and started chewing on them; 170px-Marine_Pull-ups

Step 1 – 3 Pullups – 9 Pushups – 60sec rest

Step 2 – 4 Pullups – 12 Pushups – 60sec rest

Step 3 – 6 Pullups – 18 Pushups – 60sec rest

Step 4 – 4 Pullups – 12 Pushups – 60sec rest

Step 5 – 3 Pullups – 9 Pushups – 60sec rest

So you start small, up the reps, then lower them. Step 3 is your max reps on the pullups. To determine what max reps to begin with, get your total max reps and drop it by about 20%. So mine was 8 reps I lowered it to 6.

Upping it!

If by the time you get to step 3 you think you can really push your pullup count another 2-3 more, increase the amount of pullups in ALL steps by 1 (as well as corresponding pushup count).

Change it up

There is no end to the modifications you can do for this routine. You can increase/decrease the rest times (shorter rest for endurance, longer rest for strength), you can increase/decrease the ratio of pullups to pushups (i.e 1 pullup to 1 pushup or 1 pullup to 4 pushups) and of course you can add weights to yourself to make everything harder.

My aim here is to be able to do 20 pullups on my step 3 pullup. That means there is some serious trapezium pain coming my way.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jake February 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

I am at 6 pullups and trying to reach 12. They are very difficult but they do make for good looking lats.

Another alternative I do is negatives. That is after I have maxed out my pullups, I step on a stool to bring my chin up to the bar and then I slowly let myself down to the floor. I can usually do 10 of those.
It is another way to build pullup strength.


Paleo Rob February 7, 2011 at 9:14 am

Negatives are great when starting out!

I try not to fatigue the muscles too much whilst I am building strength and often go below my max.


Nick Lo May 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

If you’ve got a chinning bar that’s at jumping height you can try a variation of this, which could be called pull-push burpees if it needed a name: It’s just a pushup then leap, grab the bar, pullup, lower, drop into pushup… and repeat.


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